HMS Conflict (1894)

HMS Conflict was an A class destroyer that served with the Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla throughout the First World War.  

The Conflict was one of three 27-knot destroyers ordered from White as part of the 1893-94 destroyer programme. She carried the standard armament of British destroyers of the period - two 18in torpedo tubes, one 12-pounder gun and five 6-pounder guns. She and her two sisters struggled to reach their contract speed, despite having some of the more powerful engines installed in this generation, and didn’t enter service until 1899, 4-5 years after her contemporaries. As a result White didn’t get any orders for the next generation of 30-knot destroyers.

HMS Conflict on speed trials
HMS Conflict
on speed trials

The White 27 knot destroyers used three White boilers, placing a coal bunker between the two forward boilers. This was reflected in the layout of the funnels - the forward funnel was quite well forward and there was then a gap to the two rear funnels.

The White destroyers were the only ones from this generation of destroyers to be built with inward turning propellers, which made them very difficult to handle.

As was often the case she reached her target speed of 27 knots during her trials, but these were carried out with no guns installed, reducing her weight. In service the 27 knot ships rarely reached their official top speeds.

By April 1918 she had the approved depth charge armament of two throwers and eighteen charges, with the aft gun and the torpedo tubes removed to compensate for the extra weight.

The Conflict was laid down on 3 January 1894, launched on 13 December 1894 but not accepted into the Navy until July 1899 because of the problems reaching her contract speed.

Pre-War Service

In 1900-1901 the Conflict served with the Mediterranean Destroyer Flotilla.

From 1902 to 1904 she was part of the Portsmouth Flotilla, one for the three big destroyer flotillas in home waters.

From 1904-1909 she was part of the Nore Flotilla.

On Monday 19 June 1905 the Conflict hit the schooner Devonia, carrying a cargo of china clay, while leaving Portland Harbour. A large hole was ripped into her side and she sank in 20 minutes. The crew of five men and a boy escaped safely before she sank.

From 1909-1912 she was part of the 4th Destroyer Flotilla at Portsmouth, with a reduced complement, and of the 6th Destroyer Flotilla at Chatham.

In the summer of 1910 she was in Scottish waters, where she escorted three submarines from Dundee to Inverness.

In March 1913 she was serving with a nucleus crew at Portsmouth, with Lt. Leonard P. Vavasour in command.

By July 1914 she was back in active commission at Portsmouth.

First World War

The Conflict wasn’t listed in the 5 August 1914 Pink List, the Admiralty list of warship locations.

By November 1914 she was one of six destroyers with the Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla.

In June 1915 she was one of seventeen destroyers serving with the Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla.

In November 1915 she was used to help escort a convoy of ships bringing troops from India to the Western Front. As they approached the channel, it was known that at least one German U-boat was in the area - U-21 was posted at the French end of the route and on 23 November sank a merchant ship close to Le Havre. Extra destroyer patrols were put in place, while the Conflict was used to escort the first transport ship across the danger zone. However after that the weather became too severe for the older destroyers to operate

In January 1916 she was one of eighteen destroyers serving with the Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla.

In October 1916 she was one of nine destroyers serving with the Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla.

In January 1917 she was at Pembroke Dock undergoing a long refit, but was still one of eight destroyers assigned to the Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla (at this date Portsmouth was also the home of the ten destroyers of Fourth Destroyer Flotilla and thirteen destroyers from the Escort Flotilla, so was a fairly crowded place!

In June 1917 she was one of nine destroyers serving with the Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla, all described as attached to HMS Vernon, the Navy’s shore based torpedo centre.

On 4 June 1917 she was one of a number of ships that attacked a submarine off Portsmouth. This started when T.B.98 spotted the conning tower and periscope of a submarine about a mile away at 12.10pm, headed for it at high speed and dropped two depth charges. The submarine was seen again at 1.10pm and the torpedo-boat attempted to ram her. The Conflict was about a mile behind the torpedo boat and rushed to the scene, where she dropped a single depth charge. Neither attack was considered to have been successful, although both commanders were given a ‘mention in dispatches’. After the war this was one of a series of attacks listed as possibly being responsible for the loss of UC-66, but that submarine had already been sunk, by air attack, on 27 May. This attack was also recorded as a possible cause of the sinking.

In January 1918 she was one of nine destroyers serving with the Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla, although three were undergoing repairs.

In June 1918 she was one of only four destroyers serving with the Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla (a fifth destroyer was present, but was probably attached to the 4th Destroyer Flotilla).

The August 1918 supplement to the Navy list still has her as part of the flotilla.

The transcribed version of the 11 November 1918 Pink List misses out the Portsmouth Flotilla,

The December 1918 supplement to the Navy List shows her as part of Portsmouth Defence Flotilla, but also as having been paid off.

From 1 December 1918 she was commanded by Chief Artificer Engineer Edward J. Nicholls.

The Conflict wasn’t listed in the November 1919 Pink List. By January 1920 she was listed as an obsolete vessel to be sold off in the Navy List.

On 20 May 1920 she was sold to Ward at Milford Haven to be scrapped.

Before 13 December 1900: Lt and Commander Cyril Corbett
-August 1913-: Lt and Commander L. Vavasour
-June 1917-: Lt R.L. Hubbard
1 December 1918-February 1919-: Chief Artificer Engineer Edward J. Nicholls.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Pendant Numbers

1914: P.24
1915-April 1916: D.96
January 1918: D.18

Top Speed

27 knots (contract)


J.S. White Boilers


78 tons of coal
1,490 mile s at 11 nots


205.5ft oa
200ft pp




One 12-pounder gun
Five 6-pounder guns
Two 18in torpedo tubes

Laid down

3 January 1894


13 December 1894


July 1899

Sold for break up

May 1920

British Destroyers From Earliest Days to the Second World War, Norman Friedman. A very detailed look at the design of British destroyers from their earliest roots as torpedo boat destroyers, though the First World War and up to the start of the Second World War, supported by vast numbers of plans and well chosen photographs [read full review]
cover cover cover


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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (12 December 2018), HMS Conflict (1894) ,

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